Belfast Telegraph

DUP hit back at Sinn Fein anger over delegation's visit to Israel

By Gareth Cross

Sinn Fein has been told it "needs to have a conversation about anti-Semitism" after one of its MLAs criticised a DUP delegation's visit to Israel.

The DUP sent a group including deputy leader Nigel Dodds and North Antrim MP Ian Paisley to the country this week in a bid to "strengthen ties between Northern Ireland and Israel".

The party confirmed they would be meeting with Israeli politicians and representatives of the Palestinian community during their visit.

However, Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan said the visit gave "succour to an apartheid state guilty of massacring civilians".

Last month more than 50 Palestinians were killed and thousands were injured on the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces as the new US Embassy was opened in Jerusalem.

Mr Sheehan said: "War crime inspectors who should be visiting Palestine, not self-styled DUP delegations that only provide succour to an apartheid state."

Mr Sheehan said it was not the time for the DUP to be making such a trip.

However DUP MP Paul Girvan rejected the criticism, and noted a recent trip to Palestine by Sinn Fein national chairperson Declan Kearney.

"Sinn Fein's have been quick to comment on this visit yet remain silent about their national chairman Declan Kearney's presence for an anti-Semitic speech delivered by Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas," the South Antrim MP said.

"Sinn Fein need to have an uncomfortable conversation about the issue of anti-Semitism.

"It speaks volumes that they appear to have had no issue with attending an event where such outrageous views were aired."

During Mr Kearney's visit to Palestine, he attended a meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's 23rd national council, which was addressed by President Abbas.

Sinn Fein referred to a previous statement where Mr Kearney described comments by Mr Girvan as a malicious distortion.

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